Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Global and Sociocultural Studies
First Advisor's Name
Jean Muteba Rahier
First Advisor's Committee Title
Second Advisor's Name
Second Advisor's Committee Title
Third Advisor's Name
Third Advisor's Committee Title
Fourth Advisor's Name
Fourth Advisor's Committee Title
black middle-class, identity performance, black Greek-letter organizations
Date of Defense
This dissertation presents a thick ethnography that engages in the micro-analysis of the situationality of black middle-class collective identification processes through an examination of performances by members of the nine historically black sororities and fraternities at Atlanta Greek Picnic, an annual festival that occurs at the beginning of June in Atlanta, Georgia. It mainly attracts undergraduate and graduate members of these university-based organizations, as they exist all over the United States. This exploration of black Greek-letter organization (BGLO) performances uncovers processes through which young black middle-class individuals attempt to combine two universes that are at first glance in complete opposition to each other: the domain of the traditional black middle-class values with representations and fashions stemming from black popular culture. These constructions also attempt to incorporate—in a contradiction of sorts— black popular cultural elements in the objective to deconstruct the social conservatism that characterizes middle-class values, particularly in relation to sexuality and its representation in social behaviors and performances. This negotiation between prescribed v middle-class values of respectability and black popular culture provides a space wherein black individuals challenge and/or perpetuate those dominant tropes through identity performances that feed into the formation of black sexual politics, which I examine through a variety of BGLO staged and non-staged performances.
Smith, Synatra A., "On and Off the Stage at Atlanta Greek Picnic: Performances of Collective Black Middle-Class Identities and the Politics of Belonging" (2015). FIU Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 1906.
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